How to Coach for the Future of Virtual Selling
By George Donovan, Chief Revenue Officer, Allego
The B2B sales industry has been largely remote for over a year now. Video calls are the new norm, business travel is down significantly and more companies than ever before are relying on new technology to bridge the gap. Despite these challenges, reps still need to collaborate with their teams, engage with their prospects and access sales content, training materials and coaching to be successful.
While some anticipate a return to pre-pandemic office life, the fact is sales will never be the same again. According to Gartner’s Future of Sales 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will happen over digital channels far beyond the pandemic. Right now, we’re in the early stages of a dramatic shift in virtual selling and sales coaching practices — a shift many companies are not ready to make.
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This article will relay how sales leaders can prepare and help their teams adapt to virtual selling to drive better sales results.
Take Full Advantage of Online Tools
It’s easy to brush off sales practices during the pandemic as temporary. Veteran sellers may miss the travel and in-person aspects of selling, patiently awaiting their return. The problem, however, is that buyers overwhelmingly prefer virtual sales. Only 20% of B2B buyers hope to return to in-person sales, with the majority hoping for remote selling and self-service options to continue well into the future.
Since buyers actually like digital sales, it’s important to coach new hires and veteran sellers on best practices and evolving training strategies to allow them to succeed. Only 39% of sales reps believe their managers use technology effectively for coaching. When almost all selling takes place virtually, not understanding virtual coaching and the technology behind it is a big problem.
Adopting new technologies will help your team achieve sales success — remote or not. According to an Allego study, 62% of sales reps said they lost sales because they couldn’t meet clients in-person. Most believe this is due to ineffective virtual coaching strategies. Furthermore, with sales organizations mainly working from home, sales trainers who can’t work side-by-side with reps are less effective because they can’t observe reps in action. However 97% of sales reps believe new tools, such as asynchronous video training, will help.
Instead of sales trainers and managers trying to schedule multiple meetings with reps in different time zones, asynchronous video can assist in reviewing messaging or going over presentations. Sales managers, trainers and sales enablement pros can record short videos sharing content or new messaging. They can also ask reps to record and share their practice video using the new messaging for their review. From there, managers can give feedback on the videos within the timeline and even collect examples of the best messaging to share with the whole team. This collaborative approach to virtual coaching allows human-to-human contact without the scheduling headaches.
Empower Sellers to Coach and Learn Together
Aside from providing reps with coaching, enabling top sellers to share their best practices with peers eases the burden of overwhelmed managers and accelerates the implementation of newer, more effective strategies. Selling is a team sport — empower sellers by providing a platform to share perspectives and collaborate with one another.
Subject matter experts, or SMEs, aren’t only in managerial positions. If a few sellers are outperforming others, invite them to share their secrets and strategies. Sales reps can provide recordings of new wins and losses, coaching sessions they believe went well, and anything else they believe could benefit other reps. Giving reps a platform for feedback and comments can help bridge communication gaps brought on by remote work and increase the effectiveness of collaboration.
Communication is essential right now. Managers and executives must work with their sales enablement team to figure out exactly what is working and how to capitalize on it. On top of teaching managers better coaching practices, you must give sellers the ability to directly teach and learn from each other.
Focus on Skills, Competencies and Results
Finding the best methods for succeeding at virtual selling can take time — especially for new hires. Just because a rep isn’t driving the same results as another doesn’t mean they are less competent or worse at their job. Allego found it takes, on average, two times longer for new hires to be productive when working remote. With the challenges of remote coaching becoming more prevalent, it’s time to adopt technology that can effectively measure certain competencies and provide proper training to boost performance.
As a start, personalized training and assessments will help managers find where reps are having the most trouble in the sales process. Since not all reps will be uniform in their approach, AI-assisted coaches can review practice pitches and sales calls, and help find better ways to address issues with consistency. When applied to a team of sellers, coaches can track and tune their training methods to increase team success and focus on areas that need the most attention.
Virtual selling is here to stay, so coaching needs to adapt accordingly. To prepare your sales team to excel beyond the pandemic, equip your coaches and sellers with the right tools to collaborate, communicate and learn from each other to boost the effectiveness of virtual training.